PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
RELEASE DATE: 1st May 2012
FORMAT: Paperback, 404 pages
The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon. In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.
But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic. (Goodreads)
THE KILLING MOON by N. K. Jemisin is a fantasy novel that takes dreams to new lengths by interweaving their power into reality.
The city of Gujaareh and neighbouring city Kisua are devoted to goddess Hetawa, but both follow different ideals about how best to serve their goddess. As a result they are often conflicted in their beliefs, with the Kisua disagreeing with Gujaareh’s Gatherers.
The Gatherers are devoted to Hetawa, and are commissioned to remove corruption from the city. They have the power to control dreams, collecting Dreamblood from them which can be used for healing and other purposes. Their main purpose is to find those who are corrupt and send them to the realm of dreams, effectively killing them and sending them on to the dream world.
“You kill, priest. You do it for mercy and a whole host of other reasons that you claim are good, but at the heart of it you sneak into people’s homes in the dead of night and kill them in their sleep. This is why we think you strange – you do this and you see nothing wrong with it.”
Ehiru is a Gatherer who is sent to gather a supposedly corrupt ambassador at the beginning of the book, but the gathering goes wrong and Ehiru ends up severing and absorbing the man’s soul, becoming compromised. He isolates himself from the Gatherers, but new apprentice Nijiri insists on having Ehiru as a mentor, as he has looked up to him since childhood.
Ehiru is brother to the Prince, the ruler of Gujaareh, who is trying to ensure peace between the two nations. However, Sunandi, a spy for Kisua, could pose a threat to that peace when she discovers a shocking secret that she intends to reveal to her people. As a result Ehiru and Nijiri are sent to gather her soul, which could prove problematic, as it is unclear if her motives are good or corrupt.
The problems with Sunandi are the least of their problems, as there are rumours of a Reaper, a fallen Gatherer who hungers for souls instead of following the pure practice of setting the souls free. Reapers can claim souls without even being in close proximity, descending into madness so they no longer know who they are, and the only thing they crave is souls.
The plot of this book was very complex, and there were times when I wasn’t entirely sure of what was happening, as the world building felt very slow. It felt as if the reader is just thrown into the world of Gujaareh from the outset, and left to work out what was going on.
However, I loved the relationship between Nijiri and Ehiru, as they share a very deep brotherhood, and the love between apprentice and master was apparent throughout. Their relationship is the driving force behind their actions, as when Ehiru starts to descend into potential madness it is Nijiri that stops him and protects him from the world.
I liked the plot twists of the novel, but I did feel like the ending was a bit underwhelming considering the build up throughout the book. I also would have liked to have seen more character development for Sunandi, as I felt there was a lot more that could have been done with her character, as well as some of the other Gatherer characters. By the end of the book I felt that a great fantasy world had been created, but I’m not sure if I’m interested in the sequel or not considering how the book ends.
This book creates a really unique fantasy world encorporating the clever integration of dreams and reality. The Gatherers were a concept I hadn’t seen before, and I liked the brotherhood between Nijiri and Ehiru as it was clear how much they cared about each other. The plot wasn’t as well introduced as I would have liked, but it picked up after a while.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- The Killing Moon
- The Shadowed Sun
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